Page 577: Cleanse Your Hands First!
Cleanse Your Hands First!
Summary: After being 'asked' to clean her hands from the smell of garlic, Evayne is ordered to tend to Rebecca's hair, exposed to questions and an insult, and finally witness to some more private thoughts of the lady.
Date: 20/02/2013
Related Logs: None directly, although the Stranger's Masquerade is referenced.
Rebecca Evayne 
Rebecca's Chambers, Braeburn House
Lady Rebecca Nayland's apartment within Braeburn House is a deliberate excrescence, festooned with faded, dusty hangings of Nayland green-and-orange, on principle. The chamber is not particularly large, which makes the four-poster bed of heavy, dark oak seem even more looming and oppressive. The room'a atmosphere is stiflingly perfumed; Rebecca burns incense there rarely, but very lavishly. Two generously ledged, arched windows appear at first glance to relieve the chamber's stuffiness, but closer examination proves one to be but a tall looking-glass of smoky crystal, the other - a suspiciously permanent view on dark woodland, capped with wan stars - undoubtedly a painting of Lady Rebecca's own design.
February 20th, 290

It's a bright morning, not that you'd know that here, in the scent-stifled redoubt of Lady Rebecca Nayland, dingily nestled by the moatside of the Groves manor house. The lady sits fully dressed, but with her hair as yet flowing unattended to her waist, and a distinctly tetchy look carved into her sharp, pale profile. In her hands is a small breviary of prayer to the Seven, but it hangs limp in her long fingers' grasp, and her large eyes do not even pretend to concede it further perusal.

Rebecca has sent Samphire on an errand of more than usual difficulty, involving a hem which must be repaired by a particular seamstress she half-remembers in a hamlet miles away, but, typically, the moment she has dispatched her favourite she regrets it. Having run a bell for whoever waits on her in the meantime, it seems she is preparing for disappointment and possibly even grievance…

The call is answered, a little belatedly, by a knock on the door. And after a short moment a maid enters, offering a curtsey. Grey eyes scan the room until they have found Rebecca. "M'lady…?" Evie offers, leaving the question regarding the Nayland's wishes hanging unsaid in the room.

Having arrived on the evening two days before, pale cheeks and shadows below the kitchen maid's grey eyes still tell a tale of little sleep and the exhaustion of a long voyage. There's a glow, however, emanating from Evayne today. It shows in the sparkle in her eyes, the ease of her movements and the dreamy smile that plays around the corners of her mouth.

Rebecca remains in her look of slightly pained abstraction until the chit addresses her, at which point the curl of her lip is quite in step with the faint narrowing of her wide green eyes. "Miz Potter, isn't it. How fresh you look." It could be an observation or a mockery.

Lady Rebecca lays her prayer book down on the pallet beside her and rises nimbly on her feet, "Had some amusing adventures abroad, perchance…? You can tell me about them while you braid my hair, …as long as you can trust yourself to concentrate."

There is a slight colouring of Evayne's pale cheeks at Rebecca's question, her gaze dropping to the floor momentarily, but it seems spending a day with a Dragon has has its share in boosting the kitchen maid's courage. Noticing the absence of Samphire just now and the hair that needs tending to, she hesitates and nods: "Certainly, M'lady.", and approaches the Nayland lady with confident steps - a thing she would not have dared otherwise probably. Braid her hair she will. But… tell her? Perhaps not all, there is to tell.

Evayne picks up the brush that lies on a nearby table and would start working it through the long tresses of deep red hair, careful not to cause the lady any discomfort. "The Masqerade at Stonebridge.", she offers, as if that would be explanation enough.

"Oh for seven's sake," Lady Rebecca whips out, striding rapidly away from Evayne and seating herself in front of the smoky looking-glass that has replaced one of her chamber's windows, "I had forgot you were a kitchen maid as a rule…go and cleanse your hands first. You'll find a ewer of cold water and some musk I don't require any longer over in yonder corner. Get the garlic out of your nails and quick about it. Stonebridge," she goes on, somehow not as a non sequitur, as if that town sums up all her annoyance.

"My kin there are not actually bastards, like most of the Rivers of the Mire, but that's about all I can say for them. You have a bastard too, Miz Potter, don't you, come to think of it? Or no, perhaps a septon reached you in time for your holy waters to break…"

Raising her hands to her face and sniffling at them, Evayne finds them not to smell any different than usual. But to please the lady she shrugs and moves over to the corner to wash them, and using some of the musk as well, to cover any smell that might be left on them. After taking another smell at her hands she nods, impressed by the now so very different scent and returns to the lady that now sits in front of the looking-glass. "You're a Nayland, M'lady. I forgot." she offers, taking up the brush again now to start with her task.

…To pause at the insulting remark in the next moment, as all colour seems to leave her face. "Forgive me, M'lady," Evie replies, her tone a little forced but still polite. "My son's not a bastard. A true born child. His father was my husband."

And indeed, Evie is not like to forget again that it is Nayland she has to deal with here! Lady Rebecca herself seems blithely unaware of any hurt she has laid out, giving the serving girl's hands an imperious sniff through her fine, aquiline, slightly upturned nose. "Much better. You may begin again. Ah, yes, I had remembered. A soldier? No need to ask what happened to him. They killed my dear cousin Nicodemus, you know, at the Trident. Some fools thought he'd come back, but it was all lies. Soldiers never come back. Nor true knights…"

Her voice has been settling all through this speech into a less acerbic, dreamier tone, as if the idea that all good men and true are doomed to die soothes her, almost, in its elegance and sense. Now she asks another fiercely practical enquiry, full of eager, prurient curiosity - "Did the child hurt much? When it came?"

"A guardsman." Evie agrees, her gaze cautious as she turns her attention to a strand that offers some resistance against the brush. "A brave man who died when the siege of Seagard was broken." Taking care not to pull too hard as she delicately distangles the hair. Rebecca's next question comes unexpected though and leaves the maid baffled for a moment. "Of course it did.", she finally replies. "Any woman who would claim otherwise is a liar, in my opinion."

The noblewoman's laughter comes in a brief and bitter burst, before she goes on, "My father's trull," (she alludes to Lady Rhiannon Nayland), "has born bastard babes beyond counting. Perhaps she takes perverse glee in the pain, or maybe the baseborn twinge less, lighter as they are by a virtuous soul."

Rebecca draws her long arms tightly around her. Twice Evayne's age and more, and much taller, she yet has a very different shape, the figure of a tall boy, unmoulded by childbirth. But if childlessness has left her body as upright and skinny as ever, her mind does not seem similarly unaffected. Her family's suppression of her chances to marry and perpetuate her line are in large part the source of her hardly-suppressed anger. "I shall wed," she is murmuring now, and almost certainly to herself, "and how sweet that pain shall be to me…"

Now that the brush moves with ease through Rebecca's hair, the kitchen maid nods and puts it down, as she will need both of her hands now to from three strands of red fire that she starts braiding - careful again not to appear too clumsy, she's just a kitchen maid after all. With her attention focussed on her task Evayne remarks carefully, avoiding any judgement of the 'trull': "One forgets the pain soon enough, with the pleasure the little ones bring." Rebecca's murmur makes her pause again, and looking up she offers with a smile: "You should, M'lady. You still look impressive, you know." Biting her lip then as she finishes with the braid, Evie does not voice her doubts that Rebecca might still be able to bear children. They say the perils of pregnancy rise with age. Her doubt might show in the expression of her young and innocent face that is not capable of keeping many secrets, though.

"I ought never to have returned to this cage," Rebecca is muttering on, her obliviousness to the girl and her half-hearted flattery apparently growing, helped perhaps by the soothing motions of brush and braid. "Nor would I have…but I had to see Cousin Stafford. There was darkness at the Roost's heart. Now I find him away with this new bride, from those new Charltons at Tall Oaks. Perhaps it is to …them…I should I have ridden, to begin with. The boy lost, my old Septa most like dead among strangers…all for a return to the cage…"

No doubt she is convinced these are thoughts, not words; they come haltingly and dreamily enough for it. It is in her firmer, haughtier tone that she remarks to Evayne, "Not bad, girl, once your hands were clean. Soon it will be adequate, and you may depart."

Evayne is finished now, after fastening a ribbon around the braid's end. Looking quite pleased with her work she raises her gaze suddenly to the reflection of Rebecca's face in the mirror, as one or two of the muttered words might have caught her attention. She opens her mouth, obviously about to ask something, but hesitates a moment too long. Her grey eyes looking slightly alarmed she curtseys as the lady dismisses her. "M'lady." And departs then through the door from whence she came. Making a mental note about one or two things to speak about with the lady's handmaiden upon her return.